On the back of the news from the NHTSA that they can’t find evidence of Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) electronic gremlins, you’d think that Toyota would be feeling smug about themselves. You’d want to shout this from the rooftops, wouldn’t you? “It’s the drivers, stupid!” If I were Akio Toyoda, I’d show this to Bob Lutz, a bloke who took great delight in knocking Toyota throughout this affair. But what was Toyota’s European division’s reaction to all of this? Humility.
Just-Auto (sub) reports that Toyota Europe declined to comment about NHTSA’s comment yesterday. They decided to hold out until the final results (which could take a few months more) are available for public consumption. “We prefer not to make any comment before we see (the) final results,” said a TME spokesperson in Belgium (where Toyota’s European division is based), “We hope it (results) will be (available) this year – they are speaking in terms of months.” The spokesperson then admitted some Toyota failings: “There have been a few issues that been established such as these sticky pedals and ABS control software that had to be put right although we are not convinced this is an issue…beyond that we do not see any problem with these vehicles.” Is this a sign that this whole affair is causing Toyota’s trademark humility to come back? Or did Toyota’s press office brief the spokesperson very, very carefully? Either way it doesn’t matter. As far as Europe goes, the story hadn’t received much traction anyhow. If the NHTSA findings fully exonerates Toyota, they can’t rest. Toyota still have to deal with, cheapening interiors, controlling bean counters, decontented vehicles, a damaged image, a leaner GM, a rising Hyundai, a more dynamic Ford, bland styling, shrinking market share, large incentives, more competitive market place and stodgy management. Come on, Toyota! Continuous improvement never stops, isn’t that what you say…?